October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For some, it’s just a month to shed a light on this ever-growing problem. For others, it’s a continuation of the harsh reality they face each and every day.
Domestic violence is more than just physical abuse. It’s also verbal, mental, financial, and sexual abuse. Those who are in it just want it to stop, and those who have survived it don’t want any other person to ever feel the pain that they felt.
Physical abuse is horrendous. It leaves bruises that take weeks or even months to heal.
Some don’t survive physical abuse and their abusers deserve every awful thing that comes to them. Those that survive physical abuse are never the same. They trust less. They flinch when you touch them. They may be left with physical ailments for the rest of their lives. The other types of abuse leave just as many bruises, you just can’t see them.
Verbal and mental abuse can wreak havoc on a person’s self esteem.
When you’re told repeatedly that you’re worthless, stupid, ugly, or the million other hurtful words that can come out of an abusers mouth, you start to actually believe it. Whether you love your abuser or not, you’ve become dependent on them and you start dissecting every little thing about yourself.
“Maybe what they’re saying is true? Maybe I’m the problem?”, is something that victims of verbal and mental abuse often ask themselves. They think their abuser will change if they change everything about themselves–if they just love them a little more. The fact of the matter is, you can change everything about yourself and you can love them with every fiber of your being, but they aren’t going to change unless they want to. They sure know how to give you just enough hope though to keep you sticking around in that “wait and see” stage.
Financial abuse is sometimes the hardest situation to get out of.
When you give a person total financial control over you, it can feel like it’s almost impossible to leave. This is particularly true if you have children. How will you support them? It seems so easy to say “just get a job”, but when you’ve been out of the workforce for a period of time and you have little kids depending on you and no help, finding and keeping a job is not that easy to do.
Sometimes, you just need to suck it up and take the help when it’s offered. Whether it comes from a friend or family member, or an organization that helps victims of domestic violence–take the help. You’re worth it and your kids are worth it. Now is not the time to be prideful. You can repay the debt tenfold once you’re on your feet.
Sexual abuse is something you never really heal from completely.
Giving the most intimate parts of you over to another person is not to be taken lightly. When you aren’t even given a choice in the matter, it can leave you broken for a long, long time.
You may handle it in different ways. Some people completely close up and are afraid of having any sexual contact for many months or even years. Others do the complete opposite and enter into a cycle of unhealthy sexual relationships to try to smother their pain and almost act like the abuse didn’t happen.
There is really no right or wrong way to deal with sexual abuse. You will never forget the moment that your choice of what to do with your body was taken away. Your body may stay in fight or flight mode for a long time after that. Therapy may be necessary, and it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
The fact of the matter is this- some of the most painful bruises are the ones you can’t see.
They are the bruises that you carry internally for a long time- perhaps even for the rest of your life. October is a great month to shed light on the problem of domestic violence. Nearly 3 out of every 4 Americans knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. That statistic is jarring. You may have someone in your life who has been a victim and you don’t even know it because it’s still such a taboo topic.
We need to talk about it. We need to let domestic violence victims know that we are here to listen to them and support them in any way we can. We need their abusers to be held accountable so that it’s not so easy for more people to become abusers. Take a stand against domestic violence not just for the month of October, but all year long.
You can learn more at Break The Cycle
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